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5.6: The Eights Class

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  • In Section 13.2 we introduced top-down development, which is a way of developing programs by identifying high-level goals, like shuffling a deck, and breaking them into smaller problems, like finding the lowest element in an array or swapping two elements.

    In this section we present bottom-up development, which goes the other way around: first we identify simple pieces we need, then we assemble them into more complex algorithms.

    Looking at the rules of Crazy Eights, we can identify some methods we’ll need:

    • Create the deck, the discard and draw piles, and the player objects.
    • Deal the cards.
    • Check whether the game is over.
    • If the draw pile is empty, shuffle the discard pile and move the cards into the draw pile.
    • Draw a card.
    • Keep track of whose turn it is and switch from one player to the next.
    • Display the state of the game.
    • Wait for the user before running the next turn.

    Now we can start implementing the pieces. Here is the beginning of the class definition for Eights, which encapsulates the state of the game:

    public class Eights {
        private Player one;
        private Player two;
        private Hand drawPile;
        private Hand discardPile;
        private Scanner in;

    In this version, there are always two players. One of the exercises at the end of the chapter asks you to modify this code to handle more players.

    The last instance variable is a Scanner that we’ll use to prompt the user after each move. Here’s a constructor that initializes the instance variables and deals the cards:

    public Eights() {
        Deck deck = new Deck("Deck");
        int handSize = 5;
        one = new Player("Allen");, handSize);
        two = new Player("Chris");, handSize);
        discardPile = new Hand("Discards");, 1);
        drawPile = new Hand("Draw pile");
        in = new Scanner(;

    The next piece we’ll need is a method that checks whether the game is over. If either hand is empty, we’re done:

    public boolean isDone() {
        return one.getHand().empty() || two.getHand().empty();

    When the draw pile is empty, we have to shuffle the discard pile. Here is a method for that:

    public void reshuffle() {
        Card prev = discardPile.popCard();

    The first line saves the top card from discardPile. The next line transfers the rest of the cards to drawPile. Then we put the saved card back into discardPile and shuffle drawPile.

    Now we can use reshuffle as part of draw:

    public Card draw() {
        if (drawPile.empty()) {
        return drawPile.popCard();

    We can switch from one player to the next like this:

    public Player nextPlayer(Player current) {
        if (current == one) {
            return two;
        } else {
            return one;

    The nextPlayer method takes the current player as a parameter and returns the player who should go next.

    The last two pieces are displayState and waitForUser:

    public void displayState() {
        System.out.println("Draw pile:");
        System.out.println(drawPile.size() + " cards");
    public void waitForUser() {

    Using these pieces, we can write takeTurn, which executes one player’s turn:

    public void takeTurn(Player player) {
        Card prev = discardPile.last();
        Card next =, prev);
        System.out.println(player.getName() + " plays " + next);

    takeTurn reads the top card off the discard pile and passes it to, which we saw in the previous section. The result is the card the player chose, which is added to the discard pile.

    Finally, we use takeTurn and the other methods to write playGame:

    public void playGame() {
        Player player = one;
        // keep playing until there's a winner
        while (!isDone()) {
            player = nextPlayer(player);
        // display the final score

    Done! Notice the result of bottom-up development is similar to top-down: we have a high-level method that calls helper methods. The main difference is the order we used to arrive at this solution.